Beatrice Vio’s gold at the in the International Wheelchair and Sports Federation (IWAS) World Cup event in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, held 16-21 December, capped a perfect unbeaten season for the Italian.
Vio’s remarkable achievement means she has not been beaten in major competition since the World Cup event in Warsaw, Poland, in September 2014.
The 18-year-old, who competes in the women’s foil category B, started her incredible run last year with wins at the World Cup in Eger, Hungary, in November and the Hong Kong Grand Prix in December.
This season she won gold at the Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada and the World Cup in Pisa, Italy, in May; the World Cup in Warsaw, Poland, in June; the World Championships in Eger, Hungary in September and the World Cup in Paris, France, in October.
Speaking before competing in Sharjah, Vio had identified Russia’s Ludmila Vasileva and China’s Jingjing Zhou as those who posed the biggest threat to her goal of ending 2015 undefeated. But on the piste Vio again proved her superiority, beating Vasileva 15-11 in the semi-final before taking gold by defeating Zhou by the same score in the final.
Vio is now firmly established as favourite for gold at Rio 2016, where she hopes her dreams of becoming Paralympic champion will be realised.
“For me Rio has been a dream since I was made a torch bearer at London 2012 representing future Paralympic athletes.” Vio explained.
“Later, even before the recent World Cups and World Championships, it became a real goal, and now it is there, waiting for me. It really is fantastic and I can’t wait to go.”
China remains dominant
In other events in Sharjah, as at the previous World Cup in Paris, it was China’s fencers who dominated.
Jianquan Tian completed an impressive double with wins in both the men’s sabre and epee category B competitions.
There was also double gold for his compatriot Jing Rong, who took the titles in both the women’s epee and foil category B events.
China also won the men’s team foil competition, defeating Russia comfortably in the final. Roles were reversed in the women’s team epee event, however, where Russia edged a 44-41 victory.
The 2016 wheelchair fencing season commences with the World Cup event in Eger, Hungary, which takes place 10-14 February.